Ruben Dias is the latest player Pep Guardiola is turning to in a bid to address Manchester City's defensive concerns.

Such worries were laid bare in a 5-2 demolition at home to Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday, marking the first time a Guardiola team had conceded five times in a single game.

Nathan Ake was already brought in from Bournemouth earlier in the window but another centre-back, probably to partner Aymeric Laporte long term, was always likely to be a priority.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Jules Kounde of Sevilla emerged as targets but it was Benfica's Dias who Guardiola eventually plumped for, with City agreeing an initial fee of £62million and sending Nicolas Otamendi in the opposite direction.

But is Dias the right answer for Guardiola? Using Opta's league data going back to August 2019, we compare the Portugal international against Laporte, Otamendi, John Stones and Eric Garcia, as well as Koulibaly and Kounde to try to answer that question.


The case for the defence…

In terms of the basics expected for a defender, Dias – who has the most appearances in our timespan with 35 – compares pretty favourably against our selected players.

His 45 tackles is only beaten by Koulibaly's 55, and the 1.3 tackles made per 90 minutes is better than Garcia (0.8), Kounde (0.9), Laporte (1.1) and the same as Stones. Both Otamendi (1.5) and Koulibaly (2.2) score better.

When it comes to interceptions, it is again Koulibaly who registers highest in direct numbers with 33, three more than Dias on 30.

Assessing the same area over 90 minutes sees Garcia (2.1), Laporte (1.6), Koulibaly (1.3) and Otamendi (1.2) all make more than Dias (0.9), while Kounde has the same and Stones is at 0.7.

Koulibaly is also the leader in blocks made (19) and blocks made per 90 (0.7) but Dias is second with 17 and 0.5 – Otamendi also scoring 0.5 in the latter measurement.

Dias has made the most clearances at 102 but when measured over the course of a game, Otamendi (3.8), Kounde (3.4) and Garcia (3.3) all rank higher than his 2.9.


More physicality needed?

There is a long-standing stereotype that the Premier League is more physical than its European counterparts.

If such an admittedly cliched notion is indeed true then Dias may have to get used to more physicality. His 88 aerial balls won is fewer only than Kounde's, but a 60 per cent aerial success rate is better only than Koulibaly (55) and Garcia (32).

Indeed, per 90 minutes, Kounde (3.7), Otamendi and Stones (both 3.3) each won more aerial balls than Dias (2.5).

For duel success, Dias is bang in the middle, with his 60 per cent lower than Stones (70), Kounde and Laporte (both 63) but higher than Koulibaly, Otamendi (both 57) and Garcia (42).

Encouragingly, Dias made no errors leading to goals in this period (and only one leading to a shot). The only players making a mistake that did result in a goal were Koulibaly and Otamendi (both one).

Kounde, Otamendi and Stones all made two errors that led to the opposition having a shot on goal.

Dias conceded one penalty in our time frame, as did Kounde, Koulibaly and Garcia. He gave away on average 1.1 fouls per game, with only Koulibaly (1.5) averaging more.


Capable of building from the back

Of course, to succeed as a defender under Guardiola, you must be as adept on the ball as you are off it and Dias has plenty to provide encouragement here.

In the 2019-20 season, Dias was involved in 104 open play sequences that led to a shot on goal and started 23 such passages. Only Koulibaly (120 and 30) was involved in more.

Dias is comfortably the best scorer in terms of involvements in open play sequences that led to a goal with 20. Otamendi scored next highest with 12 in this metric. The Portuguese was also responsible for starting three open play sequences that led to a goal – with Stones and Garcia beginning two.

Since August 2019, Dias has a pass success rate of 89 per cent, with only Kounde's 86 coming in lower. But it is not unreasonable to expect this to improve under Guardiola with Stones, Garcia (both 94), Laporte (93) and Otamendi (92) all scoring well.

Dias will quickly learn he is in a team that will spend plenty of time in possession and his 66.3 passes per 90 minutes are likely to go up when you look at the numbers for Laporte (93.6), Garcia (84.3), Stones (82.6) and Otamendi (80.6) in this regard.


Verdict: So, we asked is Dias the solution for Guardiola's defensive concerns? Well, and excuse the unashamed fence-sitting, the numbers suggest the jury is out. Let's not forget the 23-year-old is moving to a new league, which brings its own unique challenges. But that is not to say there are not causes for optimism for City fans. His numbers for involvements in open play sequences leading to shots and goals are impressive, while his defensive stats stack up well against the others. There may need to be improvement physically but, given time, Dias can be a great addition to City's backline.

Napoli director Cristiano Giuntoli believes star defender Kalidou Koulibaly will remain at the Serie A club, despite links to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Koulibaly had been strongly linked with Premier League giants City but Pep Guardiola's side agreed a deal to sign Benfica centre-back Ruben Dias on Sunday.

Ligue 1 champions PSG are also reportedly interested following Thiago Silva's departure, while the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool have been linked previously.

Asked about Koulibaly prior to Sunday's 6-0 demolition of Genoa, Giuntoli told Sky Sport Italia: "The team was completed in January with Stanislav Lobotka and Diego Demme, who can play in a few different roles. With Amir Rrahmani, [Victor] Osimhen and [Andrea] Petagna, we are complete, so will now try to release players who won't have much time on the pitch.

"I think Koulibaly is staying, we are very happy and so is he. I believe that he is staying."

Koulibaly helped keep a clean sheet as high-flying Napoli preserved their perfect start to the season against Genoa.

Napoli are yet to concede in two Serie A fixtures this season, while scoring eight goals to top the standings.

Gennaro Gattuso was also quizzed on Koulibaly following Giuntoli's comments and the Napoli head coach told Sky Sport Italia post-match: "I hope he remains with us, selfishly speaking, because he gives us so much both in technical terms and as a character.

"The world has changed because of the pandemic and I realise all clubs need to balance the books. I hope the call won't arrive, but I'll be nervous about it until transfer deadline day."

Senegal international Koulibaly has called Napoli home since arriving from Genk in 2014.

The 29-year-old was instrumental as Napoli claimed the Coppa Italia title last season – the club's first piece of silverware since 2014.

Bayern Munich or Barcelona?

Two of the world's biggest clubs are going head-to-head for Ajax sensation Sergino Dest.

And the club from LaLiga are reportedly favourites to land the teenager.

 

TOP STORY – DEST WANTS BARCA

Ajax full-back Sergino Dest has pushed aside an offer from Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern Munich as he looks to join Barcelona, according to Sport.

Bayern and LaLiga giants Barca are both interested in the 19-year-old United States international.

But Dest has his heart set on Barca, where a principle agreement is reportedly in place between the player and Ajax.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham and Inter are in talks regarding centre-back Milan Skriniar, reports Sky Sport Italia. Skriniar is wanted by Jose Mourinho's Spurs but the Premier League club are unwilling to match Inter's £55million (€60m) valuation. Benfica's Ruben Dias remains a serious alternative.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez is wanted by Serie A trio Napoli, Roma and Milan.

- The same outlet also reports that Manchester United and Arsenal are two possible destinations for out-of-favour Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti. Former club Lyon, Rennes and Inter have also been linked.

Aston Villa are eyeing Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on loan, according to the Telegraph. Barkley is down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

- Kicker says Barca and Roma have joined Paris Saint-Germain in looking at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who looks set to leave London.

Manchester City are still pursuing Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez, says the Daily Star. An alternative to Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, City's interest in Gimenez could be scuppered as the Uruguay international isolates and recovers from coronavirus.

- Despite already signing Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi, Le10 Sport claims David Beckham's Inter Miami remain keen on free agent Edinson Cavani. However, the former PSG forward is still hoping to remain in Europe.

Will Manchester City finally land Kalidou Koulibaly?

Pep Guardiola's City want defensive reinforcements and Napoli centre-back Koulibaly is reportedly at the top of the list.

If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

 

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- Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

- The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso acknowledged Kalidou Koulibaly is likely to leave the Serie A club but he would be happy to keep the star defender.

Koulibaly has been strongly linked with Premier League giants Manchester City and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain as Napoli look to raise funds following the club-record signing of Victor Osimhen.

The 29-year-old Koulibaly played as Napoli opened their 2020-21 Serie A season with a 2-0 win at Parma on Sunday and Gattuso hailed the in-demand centre-back, who has also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United.

"I had no doubts, he is one of the strongest champions in the world in his role," Gattuso said via Sky Sport.

"He has always given me great availability and always trains well. I would be sorry to lose him, both for the man and for the player.

"But you know that numbers are important for clubs and at this moment something needs to be done for numbers, but I'd be happy to keep him."

Osimhen made his debut for Napoli, coming off the bench to inspire the visitors as Dries Mertens and captain Lorenzo Insigne scored against Parma.

Gattuso added: "It's not about numbers, but the principles of football. We know Osimhen is an added bonus, but we need to run before we have quality, because quality is not enough on its own.

"We must set out the team with the right concepts and protect the defence, but we knew that Osimhen could give us another gear in the final 20-25 minutes today.

"Osimhen is a lad who, in the 25 days I've been working with, I can tell doesn't forget where he started from, who made sacrifices, lost his family very young and has the head of a 40-year-old on 21-year-old shoulders.

"I am confident he won't change, as he has a great attitude and at this moment is a better player than he's so far shown on the pitch."

Liverpool's transfer activity is ramping up.

After securing the services of Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Diogo Jota is reportedly next on the list.

Could there be more arrivals?

 

TOP STORY – JOTA LIVERPOOL BOUND

Premier League champions Liverpool are set to complete the signing of Wolves star Diogo Jota, according to Goal.

Liverpool announced the arrival of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich on Friday as they look to retain their Premier League crown in 2020-21.

Now, Jurgen Klopp's men are poised to bring former Atletico Madrid forward Jota to Anfield amid widespread speculation.

 

ROUND-UP

- RMC claims Porto full-back Alex Telles has agreed terms with Manchester United over a five-year deal. However, Paris Saint-Germain are also considering a move for the 27-year-old Brazilian following Juan Bernat's knee injury.

- Liverpool have enquired about Schalke star Ozan Kabak, reports Chris Williams. Bundesliga strugglers Schalke are reluctant to sell the 20-year-old centre-back.

Atletico Madrid are finalising a deal for Bayern Munich utility Javier Martinez, says Marca. Martinez played for Athletic Bilbao before joining Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern in 2012.

- The Daily Mail claims Manchester City are eyeing Sevilla defender Jules Kounde as an alternative to Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, though they have struggled to find an agreement with Napoli as PSG reportedly circle.

Milan have overtaken Barcelona in the race to sign Lyon captain Memphis Depay, according to Sky Italia. Tipped to reunite with former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman at Barca, Depay could now join Milan in a swap deal involving Lucas Paqueta.

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo says Barca are looking to sell Nelson Semedo to fund new arrivals, with Ajax sensation and Bayern target Sergino Dest, City defender Eric Garcia and Depay wanted.

- Goal confirmed Juventus are working to bring Everton forward Moise Kean back to Turin in addition to signing Roma's Edin Dzeko. Juve are interested in a loan deal, though Everton are asking for a permanent transfer or loan with an obligation to buy.

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso said Kalidou Koulibaly will stay if the Serie A club's asking price is not met as Manchester City reportedly eye the star defender.

Koulibaly has been heavily linked with Premier League giants City, who are believed to be preparing an offer for the Senegal international.

Manchester United and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain have also emerged as possible destinations.

However, Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia: "Koulibaly has a precise asking price, and if the club doesn't get the money it is asking for, then he won't leave."

Gattuso was speaking after Friday's 4-0 friendly rout of Pescara in the absence of wantaway forward Arkadiusz Milik.

Roma are reportedly the frontrunners to sign Milik, who is out of contract in 2021 as Napoli look to cash in before losing the Poland international on a free transfer.

Serie A champions Juventus and Tottenham have also been linked and Gattuso reiterated that Milik must leave following the arrivals of Victor Osimhen and Andrea Petagna, who scored against Pescara.

"We were very clear with Milik last year, we told him that he had to renew his contract, but he refused to do so and knows our view on this," Gattuso said.

"If Arek doesn't find another club, then it won't be an easy situation for him, because we have already signed another two forwards. There's no room for him."

Could Antoine Griezmann leave Camp Nou now that Lionel Messi has committed to Barcelona for the 2020-21 season?

Griezmann endured a difficult first season at Barca following his arrival from Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool and Manchester United are among the teams who could tempt the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY –  LIVERPOOL, UNITED CONSIDER GRIEZMANN

Liverpool and Manchester United are eyeing Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann, according to the Daily Mail.

Griezmann had reportedly been promised a leading role by new head coach Ronald Koeman had Lionel Messi left the club, but Barca's captain will remain at Camp Nou in 2020-21.

With Messi saying put, Premier League champions Liverpool, United and Arsenal are believed to be considering moves for Griezmann.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian claims Manchester City are preparing a second bid for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Pep Guardiola's City are hopeful they can find a compromise as United also reportedly eye the star defender.

- Sunday's La Gazzetta Sportiva is dominated by Barcelona pair Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal. Suarez is poised to join Serie A champions Juventus, while Vidal is set to move to Antonio Conte's Inter.

- While Suarez is reportedly close to swapping Barca for Juve, the Italian giants are considering alternatives if the deal falls through. AS Diario says Juve are weighing up Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata, while Roma's Edin Dzeko and former Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani have also been linked.

- According to Le10 Sport, Rennes are in discussions with Inter defender Diego Godin. The 34-year-old just finished his first season in Milan.

Milan remain one of the most active teams in the transfer market. Calciomercarto reports the Rossoneri have held talks with agent Fali Ramadani regarding Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, while Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic is still of interest to the club.

- Norwegian journalist Fredrik A.N. Filtvedt says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had spoken to Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho many times and the England international wants to leave for Old Trafford.

As Luis Suarez seemingly nears a Barcelona exit, the LaLiga giants could be getting close to two additions.

Barca were given a huge boost on Friday as star Lionel Messi announced he would stay at the club for another season.

But there are still set to be moves at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA CLOSE TO DEPAY, WIJNALDUM DEALS

Barcelona are close to deals for Lyon star Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, according to AD.

Depay and Wijnaldum have been reported to be targets for Barca, who are rebuilding under Ronald Koeman after a tumultuous 2019-20 season.

Goal reports Barcelona are confident of landing Wijnaldum, who is out of contract next year.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Barcelona rebuild is set to see several exits, however. BBC reports Suarez has agreed a deal with Serie A champions Juventus.

- With Messi staying at Barcelona, perhaps Manchester City will turn their focus elsewhere. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the Premier League giants are set to make a new offer – of at least £66.8million (€75m) – for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

- The other half of Manchester are enduring frustrations of their own. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are preparing to walk away from a deal for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho due to the Bundesliga club wanting £110m (€123.5m) for the forward.

- Arsenal could face competition for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. ESPN reports Paris Saint-Germain have joined the Premier League club in the race for Partey.

- While Zlatan Ibrahimovic is staying at Milan, the Serie A club may be looking for more firepower. Tuttosport reports they are again considering a move for Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who struggled in his first season in the Spanish capital.

- Also at Milan and Fabrizio Romano reports they are close to reaching an agreement with Chelsea for midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. It would be a loan for €3m (£2.7m) with an option to buy for €30m (£26.7m).

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed Kalidou Koulibaly and Arkadiusz Milik would leave if the right offers came in.

Koulibaly has been linked with a move to Manchester City, while Roma are reportedly the frontrunners to sign Milik.

Speaking on Wednesday, De Laurentiis said the duo would depart Napoli for the right price.

"Koulibaly and Milik are both leaving, market permitting," he told Canale 21.

"So, if the market allows these two talented players to leave, we will know how to replace them.

"Otherwise, we will talk about them next year."

Koulibaly, 29, has developed into one of Europe's leading centre-backs since arriving at Napoli from Genk in 2014.

The Senegal international is contracted until 2023, but has been linked with a £57.7million (€65m) move to City.

Milik, meanwhile, has spent four seasons at Napoli and netted 14 goals in 35 games in all competitions in 2019-20.

With Donny van de Beek set to arrive, are Manchester United targeting another new signing?

RB Leipzig defender and France international Dayot Upamecano is reportedly high on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's list as the United manager eyes a partner for captain Harry Maguire.

It could be a busy transfer window for United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT UPAMECANO

Manchester United are targeting RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, according to ESPN.

United are poised to complete the signing of star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek and the Red Devils are now eyeing further recruits.

While United continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, the Premier League giants have made French defender Upamecano – who signed a new deal until 2023 – a top transfer target. Upamecano has also been linked to the likes of Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona but his possible move to Manchester City could prove difficult. Tuesday's Mundo Deportivo claims City will abandon their bid to bring Messi to Manchester if they are forced to pay a transfer fee for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Messi feels he is a free agent following the 2019-20 season.

- Fabrizio Romano reports United expect to receive a bid from Roma for defender Chris Smalling, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan in the Italian capital. It comes as the Red Devils eye a new centre-back.

- Sky Sport reports Milan are set to complete a one-year loan deal for Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz. The 21-year-old Spaniard has struggled for game time since arriving in 2019. Le10 Sport, meanwhile, says Milan are very interested in Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare, who has been previously linked to the likes of United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Madrid.

James Rodriguez is on the cusp of leaving Madrid for Carlo Ancelotti's Everton, according to Romano.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain is in advanced talks to join former team-mate Blaise Matuidi at David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Arturo Vidal wants to terminate his Barca contract, says Sky Sport Italia. Gianluca Di Marzio also reports Inter are already in talks about signing the former Juve midfielder.

- France Football says Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has agreed personal terms with City amid interest from United and PSG.

Manchester City appear favourites to sign Lionel Messi, should he leave Barcelona.

Messi has sensationally handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou.

City are reportedly stepping up their chase as Pep Guardiola looks to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PREPARE MEGA OFFER FOR MESSI

Manchester City are ready to offer £89million (€100m) plus Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Eric Garcia for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Sport.

Messi wants to end his association with embattled LaLiga giants Barca amid links to City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

The Guardian also claims City are convinced they have a chance of signing the superstar captain.

ROUND-UP

- Goal says Barca forward Luis Suarez has been offered to Juventus as the Serie A champions consider a move. Suarez has reportedly been told he is not part of Ronald Koeman's plans.

Barca offered Antoine Griezmann to former club Atletico Madrid in exchange for Joao Felix, reports Marca.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Milan have made a new bid to sign Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The Italy midfielder has been linked to Inter, though the Nerazzurri are yet to reach any agreement with Brescia as they eye Barca's Arturo Vidal.

Inter, meanwhile, have opened talks with Roma to sign veteran full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, according to Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri has also been targeted but Inter are refusing to meet their demands.

- The Mirror claims Tottenham are weighing up a move for Atletico striker Diego Costa. Jose Mourinho worked with Costa during the pair's time together at Chelsea. Sky Sport Italia also reports Spurs have had a request for Nicolo Zaniolo rejected by Roma.

City remain in talks to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, says Romano. Negotiations are taking place indirectly following the fallout from Jorginho's switch to Chelsea in 2018, having been set for City.

- Bayern Munich veteran Javi Martinez has turned down a move to Fiorentina as he is close to joining David Silva at Real Sociedad, says La Razon.

- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been offered to Barca amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Manchester United, Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain should answer questions regarding star defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly has been heavily linked with a move to City, while Premier League rivals United and Ligue 1 champions PSG have also been touted as possible destinations.

The future of the Senegal international has dominated headlines, with Napoli reportedly looking to raise funds in their pursuit of Gabriel Magalhaes, though the Lille defender appears set for Arsenal.

Asked about Koulibaly, De Laurentiis deflected questions on Tuesday.

"You should ask Manchester United, City or PSG this question," he said. "In other words, those who can afford to pay certain amounts."

With midfielder Allan also in demand, De Laurentiis added: "I see many buzzards on the transfers market. You know who they are, they seem to be waiting to swoop in, but we have impenetrable armour and they won't get what they want or at the prices they want."

Koulibaly has established himself as one of the world's best defenders since joining Napoli from Genk in 2014.

The 29-year-old has helped Napoli to Coppa Italia (2019-20) and Supercoppa Italia (2014) glory.

Koulibaly made 25 Serie A appearances as Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli finished seventh in 2019-20, while they trumped Juventus in the Coppa Italia final.

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN 'SUSPENSE' OVER MESSI FUTURE

Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Is Ronald Koeman the chosen one?

Quique Setien was sacked by Barcelona on Monday, following the club's Champions League horror show.

And Netherlands head coach Koeman – a former Barca defender – is reportedly on the verge of being appointed.

 

TOP STORY – KOEMAN TO LEAD STRUGGLING BARCA

Ronald Koeman is set to become Barcelona head coach, according to widespread reports.

Netherlands boss Koeman is reportedly the man Barca want to appoint following Quique Setien's sacking in the aftermath of their 8-2 Champions League humiliation against Bayern Munich.

Tuesday's frontpages of Marca and Sport say former Barca defender Koeman will replace Setien.

Voetbal and Sky Sports claim LaLiga giants Barca are holding talks with the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) as they seek to appoint Koeman.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Koeman set to vacate his position, Fox Sports presenter Jan Joost van Gangelen claims former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has offered to take the Netherlands job. Wenger has been out of work since leaving Arsenal in 2018.

- The Guardian reports Premier League champions Liverpool are unwilling to pay the €30million (£27m) fee Bayern Munich are asking for star midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Inter remain in talks with Brescia to sign star midfielder Sandro Tonali, reports Fabrizio Romano. Inter will reportedly try to finalise a transfer following the Europa League final. Tonali has also been linked to champions Juventus.

- Alfredo Pedulla says Napoli want to sign Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos but are still trying to negotiate a fee. It comes as Arsenal reportedly close in on Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes, who has also been targeted by Napoli.

City are preparing a new and improved offer for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, says Sportitalia's Pedulla. Napoli are reportedly keen to sell Koulibaly in order to raise funds for Gabriel.

- According to Sky Sports, Manchester United are monitoring Juve winger Douglas Costa. The future of Costa in Turin is in doubt as new boss Andrea Pirlo rebuilds and with United struggling to prise Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, they could turn to the Brazilian.

- Cadena Ser claims Barca plan to force pay cuts on players who refuse to leave Camp Nou. Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic are among three of the highest earners who the club are hopeful of selling this off-season.

Milan are hopeful of re-signing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the end of the month despite negotiations dragging on, according to Calciomercato.

- AS reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano could join Real Madrid in 2021. Due to the financial situation amid the coronavirus pandemic, Madrid are reportedly holding off on major transfers until next year.

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